Itís been 14 years since my mother spoke those words to me. I was at work in Dolton, Illinois. She called me from down south Ė Priceville, Alabama. My coworker could tell it was bad news; he knew about my dadís battle with cancer. He knew the cancer was winning. Most everyone I worked with knew that.
My father was a good man. And if there is one thing he taught me about being a man, it was how to be a provider. Dad was one of the hardest working people Iíve ever known. His commitment to making sure his wife and children had what they needed seemed to be the foundation of his character. In fact, I never even knew government assistance existed until I became a cashier at a grocery store and I rang up customers who depended on such aid. My father would have worked three minimum wage jobs to support his family before he would have ever even thought about seeking financial aid from a government agency, yet he didnít look down on others who did rely on such help.
1 Timothy 5:8 (NIV) says, ďIf anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith, and is worse than an unbeliever.Ē What a powerful statement the author, Apostle Paul, makes with these words. If there is one verse in the Bible my father took to heart, it was this one. Next to God, my father was the most amazing provider Iíve ever known. I cannot think of one moment from my childhood that I was ever denied a necessity or a longing.
Dad took care of his family. But he didnít stop there. He gave money to those in need, opened up our home to people with no place to stay, and offered sound advice to anyone who would listen. A steelworker, an auto mechanic, an avid bowler and golfer, my dad knew a lot of people. When he moved from this world to the next, a lot of those people approached me, offering condolences and praises for the man they knew so well. ďHe was a good man,Ē they would say. What I found so amazing about their assessments of my father was that they didnít even know what it was like to live in the same house with my dad, yet they called him a good man. I lived with him, and I saw his commitment to his family on a daily basis; I knew if he were given a label that best described who he was, it would be ďThe Provider.Ē
The greatest gift a person can give another is love. When a man or woman makes a vow to put the security of another above their own concerns, that love becomes a part of the personal descriptive used to define a personís life. A loving heart may stop beating, but the storyline of sacrifice and dedication renews itself in the beating hearts of others who came in contact with such a generous soul.
ďI miss you Dad. Many people do. But if you ask my family what one quality I possess; what one lesson I learned from you, Iím sure they would answer, Iím a provider, like you.Ē